Nearly five million people over the age of 50 have dry eyes, with women outpacing men by almost two to one. While some view this problem as a nuisance, the fact is that chronic dry eyes can lead to larger problems if left untreated.
Dr. Curtis Frank and our team of eye health experts here at Vision and Ortho-K Center understand the long-term implications of dry eyes. As if the discomfort weren’t bad enough, dry eyes can lead to inflammation, vision issues, and infection.
Here’s a look at what chronic dry eyes are and why you shouldn’t ignore the condition.
In the simplest of terms, dry eyes are caused by one of two things:
Your tears are made up of three ingredients: Mucus, water, and oil. The mucus coats the surface of your eyes and binds the tears to the surface. Next comes the water, which also contains vitamins and minerals. Lastly, oil prevents your tears from evaporating too quickly. If there’s an imbalance in these ingredients, it can lead to dry eyes.
There are many reasons why people develop dry eyes, including:
In many cases, meibomian gland dysfunction develops, which prevents oil from mixing in to your tears.
There are many reasons why you should seek our help for chronically dry eyes, not the least of which is the discomfort. Dry eyes can be scratchy or gritty, causing anywhere from mild to severe discomfort depending upon the severity of your dry eyes.
Another problem is blurry vision, which is one of the primary symptoms of dry eyes, outside of the discomfort.
Another issue with dry eyes is that they can make your eyes more prone to inflammation, abrasion, and corneal ulcers.
Lastly, your tears perform an important protective function, and without them, your eyes may be more vulnerable to infection.
If you have dry eyes, our first order of business is to identify the underlying cause. For example, if the oil glands in your eyes are blocked, we work to free them up.
Of course, there are times when we can’t do anything about the underlying cause, such as age or important medications.
In these cases, we work to manage your dry eyes using:
Lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in helping you find relief, such as outfitting your home with a humidifier or avoiding certain triggers, like high-pollen days.
The bottom line is that there are many ways that we can help you find relief from your dry eyes and protect your eyes from further damage. To get started, contact our office in Boston, Massachusetts, to set up a consultation.